All Things Madoff

Accounting News Roundup: Congress Delay on Taxes Could Hit January Paychecks; KPMG Settles with Hollinger; PwC Asking Clients to Share Internal Info | 10.07.10

Republicans See a Political Motive in I.R.S. Audits [NYT]
“Leading Republicans are suggesting that a senior official in the Obama administration may have improperly accessed the tax records of Koch Industries, an oil company whose owners are major conservative donors.

And the Republicans are also upset about an I.R.S. review requested by Senator Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat who leads the Finance Committee, into the political activities of tax-exempt groups. Such a review threatens to “chill the legitimate exercise of First Amendment rights,” wrote two Republican senators, Orrin G. Hatch of Utah and Jon Kyl of Arizona, in a letter sent to the I.R.S. on Wednesday.
ick to point out that the I.R.S. was put under tight restrictions about access to Americans’ tax returns as a result of political shenanigans by the Nixon administration involving tax audits.”

AIG’s Real Numbers Still Shrouded in Secrecy [Jonathan Weil/Bloomberg]
“Two years ago when the government seized control of AIG, the Treasury in effect took a 79.9 percent ownership stake in the company, through preferred shares and warrants it received as part of AIG’s $182 billion bailout package. By keeping its stake below 80 percent, the government ensured that a financial-reporting method known as push-down accounting wouldn’t be permitted under U.S. accounting rules.

The reason that was so important? Had AIG chosen to implement push-down accounting, it would have had to undergo a complete re-assessment of all its assets and liabilities. And, with a few possible exceptions, the company would have been required to begin showing them on its balance sheet at their fair market values, which may have left AIG’s books looking a lot worse.”

Delays to Tax Tables May Dent Paychecks [WSJ]
“Lack of congressional action on 2011 income taxes may force the Treasury Department to make unprecedented moves to prevent U.S. workers from seeing large tax increases in their January paychecks.

The issue: 2011 tax-withholding tables. Treasury officials usually release the tables, which determine the take-home pay of millions of wage-earners, by mid-November because it takes payroll processors weeks to adjust their systems before Jan. 1.”

Steven Bandolik Joins Deloitte’s Distressed Debt & Asset Practice [PR Newswire]
“Deloitte announced today that Steven Bandolik has joined its distressed debt and asset practice. Bandolik’s hire marks the latest in a series of strategic growth initiatives executed over the last 18 months to expand Deloitte’s distressed debt and asset practice.

‘Challenges need to become opportunities in order for borrowers, lenders and investors to move forward, and get back to their core business of making positive returns on investments. Despite lower interest rates, obtaining new financing regardless of loan performance continues to be an issue unless properties and financial positions are extremely strong,’ said Bandolik. ‘In this environment, clients require intellectual capital to re-structure transactions, and design sensible underwriting, due diligence and risk management procedures. Their debt may need to be structured more conservatively, requiring higher equity levels that could withstand future stress, with a focus on deleveraging over the holding period.’ ”

Hollinger Inc.: Settlement of Claims Against KPMG LLP [Marketwire]
“The Litigation Trustee of Hollinger Inc. (“Hollinger”) announced today that he has entered into a settlement agreement with KPMG LLP to resolve all claims against Hollinger’s former advisor advanced by the Litigation Trustee on behalf of Hollinger. The settlement entails no admission of liability on the part of KPMG LLP. The terms of the settlement include releases in favour of KPMG LLP from Hollinger and its subsidiaries, as well as from third parties involved in related Hollinger litigation. The settlement and the releases are subject to court approval, which will be sought on notice to other affected parties. The rest of the terms of the settlement agreement are confidential.”


CAQ Reports on Fraud Best Practices, Launches New Effort [Compliance Week]
“The CAQ conducted five roundtables and 20 in-depth interviews to develop consensus on how companies can best create a financial reporting environment where fraud has little potential to seed or take root. The CAQ published the findings as a cornerstone to further collaborative efforts with other professional groups to share ideas and best practices on how to derail fraudulent financial reporting.”

PwC audit clients asked to give up internal information [Accountancy Age]
“Ian Powell, chairman of PwC told an audience of 300 business professionals, the audit model needed reform, and believed some internal discussions, now privately held between an auditor and company, needed to be made public.

‘It may well be that by making more of those discussions public, the value of an audit can be collectively improved,’ he said.

‘I have asked our lead audit partners to discuss this idea with audit committee chairs of PwC clients to see if we can work together on a voluntary basis to improve the disclosure of such matters over the next reporting cycle.’

The comments come as the European Commission prepares to release a green paper on audit competition, due later this month, and the House of Lords prepares to hear evidence on the issue, next week.”

Greenspan: Financial overhaul to have ‘significant impact’ on economic growth [On the Money/The Hill]
Some people are still listening to this man.

Madoff clan denies fraud role, seek suit dismissal [Reuters]
A consistent message may actually convince someone, some day.

Bernie Madoff’s Former CPA Is No Longer a CPA

In a formality that serves as the proverbial cherry to achieving his “Worst Auditor Ever” status, David Friehling was officially stripped of his CPA by the New York Department of Education.

The Office of Professional Discipline voted on July 19th to take away the most coveted letters in the accounting profession from the convicted “auditor.” LoHud quotes part of the decision issued by the state, “When each opinion was issued (Friehling) knew that no audit or any examination had been conducted of said financial statements.”


Obviously the OPD made the right decision here but it begs the question: what the hell took so long? Call us impatient or simply devoid of tolerance for a slow moving bureaucracy but it’s not like this one was a toss-up. Do these Professional Discipline folks only meet semi-annually? Were the waiting out the possibility of SCOTUS overruling the conviction a la Andersen?

But never mind that. Friehling has to be devastated with this latest setback. All that studying for nothing! He took the written CPA exam, people. Some of you are familiar with that particular bit of torture but for you younger CPAs, believe us when we tell you that it’s no picnic.

Plus, that CPA jail-tattoo he was looking forward to getting on his neck simply won’t have the same meaning.

Bernard Madoff’s New City accountant loses CPA license [LoHud]

Accounting News Roundup: New Rule from FASB, IASB Will Bring Leases on Balance Sheet; California’s Latest Revenue Idea; Madoff CFO Released to House Arrest | 06.23.10

New Accounting Rules Ruffle the Leasing Market [NYT]
The convergence efforts by the FASB and the IASB have managed to produce a consensus on lease accounting and it has repercussions on both sides of the balance sheet.

“The two boards have come up with a new standard, which will be completed next year and enacted in 2013, that will require companies to book leases as assets and liabilities on their balance sheets. Currently, American and foreign companies list many leases as footnotes in their financial statements. As a result of the change, public companies will have to put some $1.3 trillion in leases on their balance sheets, according to estimates by the See Commission. Because many private companies also follow GAAP accounting, the number could be closer to $2 trillion, experts said.”

Middle-Class Tax Boost Is Broached [WSJ]
Reaction to Steny Hoyer’s call in a speech for Congress to quit lying to themselves was not met with enthusiasm.

The Journal reports that the GOP has different ideas, including House Orange leader John Boehner is quoted in the Journal, “Mr. Hoyer’s speech brought a round of criticism from Republicans, who emphasize spending cuts instead, and oppose allowing any Bush tax cuts to expire. House GOP Leader John Boehner of Ohio said Mr. Hoyer was admitting ‘that he supports raising taxes on the middle class to pay for more government spending.’ ”

Rep. Oompa Loompa obviously didn’t hear the part of the speech where Hoyer addressed the “cut spending” broken record, “The eagerness of so many to blast spending in the abstract without offering solutions that come close to measuring up to the size of the problem.”


California could turn license plates into ad revenue space [Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal]
The latest out of the brain trust in Sacramento, “As California faces a $19 billion deficit, the Legislature is considering whether to allow license plates to become traveling ad spaces.

When the vehicle is moving the license plate would look like the ones we’re used to now, but when the vehicle stops for more than four seconds a digital ad or other message would flash. The license plate number would always be visible.”

Madoff crony sprung [NYP]
“Earlier yesterday, former Madoff CFO Frank DiPascali Jr. was released to house arrest.

A grizzled-looking DiPascali refused to answer questions about the report in Monday’s Post that Madoff told fellow jailbirds that DiPascali knows the identity of three people the Ponzi king gave money to shortly before his arrest.

A judge initially refused prosecutors’ requests that DiPascali be released so he could assist in their ongoing probe, but in February he won a $10 million bail package based on his extensive cooperation.”

BP confirms Bob Dudley in key Gulf clean-up role [AP]
Knock ’em dead!

Business Leader Slams ‘Hostile’ Policies on Jobs [WSJ]
“In comments marking one of the sharpest breaks between top executives and the Obama White House, [Verizon Communications CEO Ivan] Seidenberg used a speech at Washington’s Economic Club to unleash a list of policy grievances over taxes, trade and financial regulation.

Mr. Seidenberg’s comments are particularly notable because he heads the Business Roundtable, a group encompassing the chief executives of the nation’s largest listed companies whose members have enjoyed frequent access to the president and his top aides. Its leaders have advised the White House on topics from economic recovery to health care to clean energy.”

SEC Self-Funding Is A Mistake! [The Summa]
“In support of SEC self-funding, SEC chairs always argue in public that they lack sufficient and consistent funding to enforce securities laws and regulations. As proof, they point out that Congress occasionally cuts back on SEC funding.

What they don’t mention is that the budgetary review process provides an opportunity for Congressional oversight of the SEC. When the SEC is performing poorly, say due to the atrocious leadership of the Chairs (i.e., Cox and Schapiro), a Congressional budget cut is a natural and effective response. Of course SEC chairs want self-funding, it gives them a pass from oversight. Who wouldn’t want that?”

The BNY Mellon CFO Isn’t Mad at Andrew Cuomo…

…just disappointed about Andy getting all sue-y over BNY Mellon’s Ivy Asset Management’s involvement with Berns Madoff, which will result in more money going to – SHOCK – lawyers.

Bank of New York Mellon Corp.’s (BK) Chief Financial Officer Todd Gibbons told investors Wednesday that the company is “a bit disappointed” about the New York Attorney General’s decision to file a law suit against the bank related to Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi-scheme.

But as a result of the suit, and the current environment more broadly, legal cost are expected to run higher, the CFO said at UBS AG’s (UBS) Global Financial Services Conference in New York.

Accounting News Roundup: Senate Starts Voting on Financial Reform; Risk Management Succumbs to Risk Intelligence; Six Flags Emerges from Bankruptcy | 05.04.10

Voting begins in Senate on Wall Street reform [Reuters]
The latest partisan bickering effort in Congress will get underway today, although the first votes are not likely to be controversial. The first amendment to Senator Chris Dodd’s (D-CT) 1,600 page epic has been proposed by Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and it state “that no taxpayer funds could be used again to bail out financial institutions,” something that anyone up for reelection will likely get behind.

PwC partner Colin Tenner sues over redundancy [Times Online]
Mr Tenner claims that he was let go because of his suffering from depression and anxiety. He claims “mismanagement at PwC and bullying by a client led to him to take sick leave in September 2007. He alleges that he approached PwC in spring 2008 to arrange a phased return to work but says that these discussions broke down, leading to his redundancy.”

Of interest is how the tribunal will decide, “what responsibilities partners at a professional services firm have when one of their number displays signs of stress or becomes mentally ill but wishes to remain in the partnership.” This seems odd primarily because most partners are constantly showing signs of stress and if they’re not, one just assumes they’re mentally ill.


Picower Estate to Pay Billions to Madoff Investors [WSJ]
The estate of Jeffery Picower, a Madoff investor who drowned in his pool last fall, will pay $2 billion to the Madoff trustee in charge of recovering money for investors. This will more than double the $1.5 billion recovered so far.

New Career Path: ‘Risk Intelligence Officer’ [FINS]
Much can be learned from the financial crisis; not least of which is that a lot of companies sucked at managing their risk. Case in point, “risk management” is a prehistoric idea now and one Deloitte principal argues that a “risk intelligence officer” is new sage in this area:

The job of a risk intelligence officer is to assess the organization’s risks and inform business line managers where they need to focus their risk-management efforts.

“They need somebody who can see the big picture and connect the dots,” said [Rick] Funston, who is a principal with Deloitte in Detroit. Deloitte has been encouraging its clients to develop the new role, he said…

Effective risk professionals find a way to discuss systemic failures and take steps to strengthen the organization’s resilience and agility. Part of the job is to understand a company’s vulnerabilities and make it OK to talk about them, institutionalizing the discussion.

Six Flags Emerges From Bankruptcy [Reuters]
Six Flags has emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy just in time for summer and now “has more financial flexibility to pursue a shift in strategy toward attracting more families to its amusement parks.” Not sure who an amusement park company would target other than families but it’s nice to see you back in the game, 6F.

Accounting News Roundup: Schapiro Says Timing of Goldman Suit Not Political; Old Madoff Stomping Grounds Close to Foreclosure; IRS Launches Inquiry into Florida GOP Credit Card Spending | 04.22.10

SEC Chairman: No Heads Up on Goldman Lawsuit [WSJ]
Mary Schapiro would like everyone to know that just because they laid the smackdown on Goldman Sachs last Friday instead of, say, last year is that A) she’s still new at this job and B) the SEC does (and most certainly does not) what it wants when it wants. Even if it is an election year, the POTUS and his agenda have nothing to do with it.


“I started this job 15 months ago, in the wake of a serious financial crisis and with the view that the SEC must regulate Wall Street and vigorously enforce the securities laws. We will neither bring cases, nor refrain from bringing them, because of the political consequences. We will be governed always and only by the facts and the law.”

Lipstick on the collar [NYP]
The Post is reporting that the Lipstick Building, where Bernie Madoff had his North Pole offices is sliding ever closer to foreclosure. The report states that the Royal Bank of Canada is looking to get rid of its $210 million mortgage on 885 Third Ave.

“[T]he Lipstick Building’s problems are the direct result of having been purchased at the height of the property boom. RBC’s $210 million loan was provided as part of a complex financing structure used by Israel’s Metropolitan Real Estate Investors — led by Haim Revah and Jacob Abikzer — to pay $648.5 million for the property in 2007.”

Feds launch inquiry into Florida GOP credit-card expenses [Miami Herald]
The IRS is poking around the credit card activity by some Florida Republicans including the leading contender for its U.S. Senate, Marco Rubio. The IRS has opened a “preliminary inquiry” to determine if there is enough evidence to launch a formal investigation.

The Miami Herald and St. Petersburg Times both obtained credit card statements of Mr Rubio that reportedly include, “repairs to the family minivan, grocery bills, plane tickets for his wife, and purchases from retailers ranging from a wine store near his home to Apple’s on-line store. Rubio also charged the party for dozens of meals during the annual lawmaking session in Tallahassee, even though he received taxpayer subsidies for his meals.”

Mr Rubio insists that there “absolutely nothing to this,” and that “We don’t believe it’s income,” which sounds like some famous last words prior to a full blown IRS investigation.

Accounting News Roundup: KPMG Dodges Madoff Feeder Fund Lawsuit; SEC May Disclose More Details in Settled Lawsuits; Tax Code? Now There’s an App for That | 04.01.10

KPMG wins dismissal of Madoff feeder fund lawsuit [Reuters]
A class action lawsuit brought against KPMG by Meridian Horizon Fund, L.P. and other investors in Tremont Partners was dismissed yesterday in New York. Tremont had more than half of its assets were Berns andKPMG audited Tremont funds in 2006 and 2007.

Judge Thomas Griesa ruled that the plaintiffs’ case did not show that KPMG had any intent to deceive the investors in Tremont. Emily Chasan reports that Judge Griesa wrote, “Merely alleging that the auditor had access to the information by which it could have discovered the fraud is not sufficient,” and that the firm would have had to botch the engagements so badly that it would have amounted to “no audit at all.” He did not rule out the possibility of Meridian re-filing their lawsuit in the future.


SEC may require more details of wrongdoing to be disclosed in settlements [WaPo]
The SEC is thinking about disclosing more details in their civil action settlements; a move that would do away with the quick and dirty “neither admitted nor denied the charges.” This could result in a more transparent process where violations of the law are — God forbid — disclosed in detail.

Securities lawyers said a more detailed public record of cases could make defendants less likely to settle and make it easier for shareholders to file class-action lawsuits piggybacking on the SEC’s claims. It could also lead to embarrassment for executives if the agency publicized their roles in violating securities law, even if they are not personally charged.

God knows we can’t have executives embarrassed.

The Tax Code and Regs for Your iPhone [TaxProf Blog]
Who wants to schlep around the physical tax code?

Accounting News Roundup: Joint Taxation Committee Explains IRS Penalties Under Health Care Bill; Madoff Owes New York $1 Mil in Taxes; ACORN Shutting Down | 03.23.10

What Happens If You Don’t Buy Health Insurance under Health Care Reform Bill? [Tax Policy Blog]
Believe it or not, there is misinformation out there about the health care reform bill. No, it’s true!

One big fear is the IRS getting all up in your shit for not buying health insurance. According to some, heavily armed IRS agents will kick down your door if you haven’t made the necessary arrangements for coverage, take your children away and kick your dog as they exit your house with your money and your freedom. Fortunately, Tax Policy blog has presented the Joint Taxation Committee’s explanation of what would really happen if you decided to skip on the coverage.

The penalty applies to any period the individual does not maintain minimum essential coverage and is determined monthly. The penalty is assessed through the Code and accounted for as an additional amount of Federal tax owed. However, it is not subject to the enforcement provisions of subtitle F of the Code. The use of liens and seizures otherwise authorized for collection of taxes does not apply to the collection of this penalty. Non-compliance with the personal responsibility requirement to have health coverage is not subject to criminal or civil penalties under the Code and interest does not accrue for failure to pay such assessments in a timely manner.

NY is newest Madoff victim [NYP]
Apparently Berns didn’t sort out all of his affairs before taking his permanent vacation to the Carolinas. He owes nearly $1 million taxes to New York State according to the Department of Tax and Finance’s list of largest delinquents.

Acorn to Shut All Its Offices by April 1 [NYT]
After getting dropped from the VITA list by the IRS and getting snubbed by the Census Bureau, Glenn Beck’s favorite NPO is closing up shop on April Fool’s Day. Beck will certainly be on hand to see the headquarters burned to the ground to assure that the American people aren’t being duped again.

Can the Month of March Get Worse for Ernst & Young?

Today in non-Lehman Brothers Ernst & Young news, the firm has been sued by a liquidator in Luxembourg just a few weeks after a Lux court ruled that individual investors couldn’t bring suits against UBS and E&Y. The suit seeks over $400 million in damages against the two firms. The Iriving Picard de Lux is Alain Rukavina, who filed the suit today.

BBW reports that “Rukavina is one of two liquidators who in December sued UBS and Ernst & Young over Access International Advisors LLC’s LuxAlpha Sicav-American Selection Fund, which once had $1.4 billion in net assets.”


A UBS spokesperson stated that this development was not unexpected and we’re sure that E&Y isn’t yawning at this news, chalking it up to fairly typical Monday.

So in case you’ve been in a coma for the last week or so, you’re probably aware that JT and Co. haven’t had such a great March. Anyone got ideas for how they turn all these frowns upside downs? Do Canadian Tuxedos become standard dress code M – F? Does Jimbo send everyone a complimentary pair of Timberlands? An E&Y Hitler video to lighten the mood? Suggestions are welcome.

UBS, Ernst & Young Sued by Madoff-Fund Liquidators [Bloomberg BusinessWeek]

Luxembourg Court Ruling Nullifies Madoff Investors’ Claims Against Ernst & Young, UBS

Of course the investors are appealing but one win at at time, amiright?

The suits were filed in the fall by investors who lost millions in the LuxAlpha Sicav-American Selection fund which had 95% of its fund invested with Bernie Madoff. The fund claims that it had $1.4 billion in net assets a month prior to Madoff’s arrest.


UBS acted as the custodian while E&Y was the auditor and were sued for “seriously neglecting” their supervisory duties for the fund. Investors in the fund filed more than 100 lawsuits against the two companies.

Luxembourg’s commercial court said in a ruling today concerning 10 test cases that investors can’t bring individual lawsuits for damages. The court said it’s up to the liquidators of the funds that invested with Madoff to seek the “recovery of the capital assets.”

In other words, UBS and E&Y, you’re going to get sued by Irving Picard de Luxembourg rather than 100+ pissed off individuals whose life savings went *poof*. Setting legal precedent aside, taking emotion of the equation works wonders for making an argument.

UBS, Ernst & Young Win Bid to Block Madoff Lawsuits [Bloomberg BusinessWeek]

Earlier:
Ernst & Young Is Thankful for Lawyers, Possibly Toblerones

Accounting News Roundup: Rangel Chastised by Ethics Panel; Settlement Reached for Ex-Deloitte Exec on Insider Trading Charges; Madoff Auditor Sentencing Delayed | 02.26.10

Panel Admonishes Rangel for Taking Trips as Gifts [NYT]
Charlie Rangel had a Congressional ethics committee rule that he “violated gift rules” when he accepted corporate-sponsored trips to the Caribbean. While that is certainly bad news for Rangs, the committee is far from finished with its investigation as they continue their inquiries about Chuck’s “fund-raising, his failure to pay federal taxes on rental income from a Dominican villa, and his use of four rent-stabilized apartments provided by a Manhattan real estate developer.”


Following typical political grandstanding protocol, Republicans are calling for CR to step down from his post as the Chairman of the House Ways & Means Comittee:

“In this time of great economic uncertainty, struggling middle-class Americans deserve better than to have a tax cheat chairing a powerful Congressional committee that directly impacts the financial livelihoods of millions of hard-working people,” said Ken Spain, the communications director of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Ex-Deloitte Exec Settles Insider Trading Charges [Web CPA]
John A. Foley, who “settle[d] the SEC’s charges without admitting or denying the allegations”, was trading on inside information on a number of Deloitte clients including rubber shoe factory Crocs, along with YRC Worldwide, Inc., Spectralink Corporation and SigmaTel, Inc.

The trades yielded Foely and his fellow cheaters just over $200k which would buy a helluva lot of ugly shoes.

Madoff’s New City accountant’s sentencing put off until September [LoHud]
David Friehling, the worst auditor ever, was scheduled to be sentenced today for his little part in the Madoff Ponzi scheme has been delayed until September. Friehling’s continued cooperation was the reason for the delay in sentencing. Although he faces over 100 years in prison, Judge Alvin Hellerstein told DF that his cooperation will be noted when final sentencing is determined. Presumably, that will knock it down to well under a century of doing time.

Quote of the Day: Harry Markopolos Had That Crazy Look in His Eye | 02.25.10

“If he contacted me and threatened me, I was going to drive down to New York and take him out. At that point it would have come down to him or me; it was as simple as that. The government would have forced me into it by failing to do its job, and failing to protect me. In that situation I felt I had no other options. I was going to kill him.”

~ Harry Markopolos, in his new book, on Bernie Madoff.

SEC Reminds Us of Past Mistakes; Arrests Madoff Associate

One day after it was reported that fraud detecting superman Harry Markopolos called the Commissioners “idiots” and Mary Schapiro “coldly polite” (that’s a compliment, isn’t it?) the SEC is charging another Madoff associate.

Today the Commission brought charges of “conspiracy, securities fraud, falsifying books and records of a broker-dealer, false filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and filing false federal tax returns,” against Daniel Bonventre, according to several reports.


Bonventre was the master of making the internal accounting look legit, as opposed to lying to peoples’ faces directly. He was responsible for accounting entries that “[hid] the scope of the investment advisory operations and understating Madoff liabilities by billions of dollars.”

The Commission also brought civil charges against Bonventre, “alleging he helped disguise Madoff’s fraud and financial losses at Madoff’s firm by misusing and improperly recording investor money to create the false appearance of legitimate income.”

While the rest of the media focuses on the who, the what and the how long will that person be spending in FPMITA prison, “Dirty Diapers” Markopolos probably just wanted remind everyone that A) the SEC missed this by ignoring him several times and B) he still doesn’t think too highly of them. Oh, and he has a book coming out.

DOJ, SEC Announce Charges Against Madoff Exec Bonventre [Dow Jones via WSJ]
Madoff Aide Bonventre Becomes Sixth Charged in Fraud [Bloomberg BusinessWeek]
Madoff Whistleblower Slams Obama’s SEC: ‘They’re A Bunch Of Idiots There’ [HuffPo]

(UPDATE) Madoff Investors Sue KPMG, JP Morgan, Bank of New York Mellon

By our last count KPMG had been named in ten lawsuits related to Madoff feeder funds. What’s one more?

KPMG, JP Morgan, Bank of New York Mellon, Oppenheimer Acquisition Corp. and Mass Mutual Life Insurance, along with the Tremont founders were all named in an amended lawsuit that was filed yesterday.

Cotchettt, Pitre, & McCarthy, the attorneys for the Plaintiffs, are not mincing words on KPMG’s part in the whole mess. From the firm’s website:

The sheer size and scope of the fraud make it impossible for Madoff to have acted alone. The complaint alleges JP Morgan and the Bank of New York as well as powerhouse accounting firm KPMG LLP and their international counterparts, KPMG UK and KPMG International were primary players responsible for the fraud.

The amended complaint further alleges that the phantom trades “should have been discovered by KPMG UK, the auditor for Madoff’s London based operation, Madoff Securities International Ltd. Instead, KMPG UK never raised any red flags that investors’ money was used by Madoff as his personal piggy bank.”

KPMG declined to comment for the Reuters article but we’ll assume that they don’t take kindly to the complaint.
Madoff investors sue KPMG and major banks [Reuters]

MADOFF_WEXLER_FIRST_AMENDED_COMPLAINT.pdf

UPDATE: The UK Firm issued the following, per Accountancy Age:

KPMG considers the allegations in the complaint to be wholly without merit and will defend them vigorously. The complaint cites KPMG in its capacity as statutory auditor of Madoff Securities International Limited (MSIL), a London based company directly owned by the Madoff family. KPMG acted in this capacity for several years and issued unqualified audit opinions on MSIL’s financial statements. We are not aware of any suggestion that the financial statements of MSIL contain errors.

The SEC Probably Thought Madoff Victims Would Just Let the Whole Thing Slide

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 140px-United_States_Securities_and_Exchange_Commission.pngFinally someone has had enough of the SEC’s new-sheriff-in-town act and is suing their asses for missing Bernie Madoff’s not so subtle Ponzi scheme.
Two victims are suing the House of Schape for their money that just up and disappeared, which amounts to $2.4 million. The suit also serves as a friendly reminder for the Commission that they sucked at their jobs big time for the better part of a decade.
According to the suit, the two victims, Phyllis Molchatsky and Steven Schneider, initially tried playing nice by filing administrative claims with the SEC but the Commission told them to get bent, thus allowing Molcahtsky and Schneider to sue in Federal court.
This may result in other Madoff victims filing suit as well, so our advice to M. Schape would be to call over to the Fed and to see if she can borrow that money printing machine.
Two Madoff victims file lawsuit against the SEC [Reuters]
See also: Madoff Victims Devise Hedging Strategy [DB]

PwC Canada Wants Everyone to Know That They Didn’t Audit Bernie Madoff’s Funds

pwclogo.thumbnail.jpgWith all the D talk out there re: anything Madoff, and most recently possible hotboxing and manscaping we’d hoped that maybe this whole story had taken a turn towards smut for good. Alas, we find ourselves back to a litigious story, this time it’s P. Dubs of the Canadian variety that are getting their asses sued:
More, after the jump

The Canadian arm of PwC has been named in seven separate lawsuits claiming as much as $2bn in damages for investors who lost almost everything in the largest fraud in history…PwC Canada has been accused of negligence for failing to spot that Fairfield Sentry’s $7.2bn of assets simply did not exist. The firm signed off accounts in 2007 that stated 97.3pc of Fairfield Sentry’s assets were held in short-term US treasury bills – an asset class that should be safer than cash.

PwC, obviously quite aware that a sex scandal wrapped inside a financial scandal may confuse anyone that is both distracted by sex and financially illiterate, issued this statement:

“PwC Canada provided auditing services to the Fairfield Sentry fund, but was not the auditor for Bernard Madoff Investments where the alleged fraud occurred. PwC Canada’s auditing of the fund’s financial statements fully complied with professional standards.”

Now, to some, this may seem unness for P. Dubs to explain that they didn’t audit Bernie’s funds since this never would have gotten past any reputable firm. However, since we now have a sex scandal mixed with the biggest financial scandal ever, involving thousands of duped investors, PwC decided to err on the side of caution.
Madoff victims to sue accountants PwC over feeder fund audits [Telegraph]

Bean Counter Reputations Hit a New Low

A woman who was a CFO for a charity that invested with Bernie is claiming, in a book of course, that she not only had all her personal money invested with him that went poof but that she was also bumping uglies with the Master Ponz. Supposedly there will be pictures which obviously begs several questions. Check out Dealbreaker for the debate.
Sleeping with the enemy is certainly a new low for bean counters. She could’ve done us all a favor and gotten down with Dick Cheney and it wouldn’t look nearly as bad.
Madoff Had Affair With Ex-Hadassah Finance Chief, Her Book Says [Bloomberg]

Guilty Madoff CFO Update

It’s offish. DiPascali pleaded guilty to all ten counts against him and faces 125 years in prison, just quarter century short of Boss Ponz. However, because he is cooperating with the U.S. Attorney, DiPascali may be lucky enough to get a sentence under the century mark.
The bright side for Frank DiPascali is that he gets to spend his last few days as a free man courtesy of a very nice sister who put up her house for the $2.5 million bond. Sentencing is tentatively set for May 2010.
DiPascali was the man that many Madoff investors corresponded with directly so it’s clear to us that he was LYING A LOT.
Per the WSJ:

The former chief financial officer for Bernard Madoff says he helped the disgraced financier and others “carry out a fraud that hurt thousands of people”…Mr. DiPascali said at the plea hearing that the transactions were “all fake. It was all fictitious. It was wrong, and I knew it was wrong at the time.”

Okay then, nothing really new there but we will be waiting patiently to hear the other names. Next bean counter up for book throwing is David Friehling, who was kind enough to rubber stamp the Madoff financial statements for around $14k a month. Bright side for Friehling is that he’s looking at 50% less time in jail then Bernie.

More Madoff Justice Expected Today

As we mentioned last week, Frank DiPascali, the Chief Financial Officer Accounting Officer Number-Maker-Upper is going to be arraigned today on multiple counts of fraud, conspiracy and other bad stuff that will earn him a permanent wardrobe of bright orange or heavy denim jumpsuits. We’ll update you on the sitch after 3 pm EDT.

Madoff CFO to Be Charged

iStock_000001511480XSmall.jpgFrank DiPascali, Bernie Madoff’s CFO Number-Maker-Upper is going to be charged in connection with some money gone missing. DiPascali has agreed to skip the grand jury and get down to business, according to Bloomberg, indicating that he might flip. DiPascali seems to be taking a cue from another pseudo-bean counter who’s only plausible defense is stupidity.
U.S. to File Charges Against DiPascali, Ex-Madoff CFO [Bloomberg]

Review Comments | 07.24.09

geithner-tim-4.jpgGeithner urges end to ‘dumb regulation’ – “Tim Geithner, Treasury secretary, said there was “a lot of dumb regulation in our country” and urged lawmakers to act quickly in spite of resistance from the financial industry and other regulators to the administration’s plan.” [FT.com]
California Senate Approves Budget Plan – “The California Senate early Friday approved a plan to close a $26 billion budget shortfall through steep spending cuts and a medley of one-time solutions and accounting moves.” Creative accounting, Cali? FTW! [WSJ]
Buffett: I’m keeping my Goldman Sachs warrants – But thanks for asking. [Reuters]
Madoff Trustee Battles Israeli Charity Over $4.7 Mln – “A charity for homeless and runaway Israeli children that lost money in Bernard Madoff’s fraud told a U.S. judge that the trustee liquidating the con man’s business wrongfully rejected its $4.72 million claim in the case.” [Bloomberg]

Madoff Already has Respect in Prison and He Hasn’t Even Gotten Started

madoffjail.jpgWhenever you’re the new guy, things can be awkward for awhile. Not for Bernie Madoff. The Master de Ponz has been in prison for less than a month and the guy is thriving already:

Some of his fellow inmates, in fact, respect him for being a stand-up guy who pleaded guilty without implicating any of the other people strongly suspected of helping him pull off the fraud that swindled more than 1,000 people out of more than $65 billion over two decades. “He got a lot of respect from other inmates because he didn’t tell on anybody, he didn’t take everybody down with him,” the source said.

That’s right people, RESPECT.
The Post, never short on the melodramatic, is focusing on the inmates that are looking to slap around ole Bern to get themselves a little respect. We don’t buy it. Anyone looking to rough him up will have a change of heart as soon as they hear about the outstanding year over year double-digit returns he’ll get you on those Lucky Strikes.
UPDATE, 3:37 PM: A guy sometimes gets a little distracted from personal appearance when he’s being trucked around. Check out DealBreaker for Bess Levin’s take on Butner’s new Mr. Popular.
BERNIE IN THUGS’ SIGHTS [New York Post]

The Eagle Ponz Has Landed

madoffjail.jpg Per Bloomberg, he’s touched down in Butner, NC. The moral of the story being: Look both ways before you steal $65 billion (give or take a few bil).

Madoff’s New Digs in North Carolina?

chicago-mls-jail.jpgBernie Madoff is “in transit” to prison per a story at Bloomberg. The story’s source was a spokesman from the Federal Correctional Institute in Otisville, NY, where the Master de Ponz requested to be housed.
CNBC has reported that he will serve his sentence in Butner, NC.
Butner has two lovely medium security facilities and one posh low security facility so it’s def not FPMITA prison but it’s not the cushy dorm-style and we would speculate that inmates are only allowed to use sporks at chow time and use Lucky Strikes to buy Juicy Fruit and other luxuries.
Bernard Madoff ‘In Transit’ to Prison, Spokesman Says [Bloomberg]

SEC Still Stonewalling, Considering Slowing Down the PCAOB Even More

The SEC gave Congress a little tease about what happened at the Commission re: totally missing the boat on this Madoff thing. But then again, not really.
Inspector General David Kotz made recommendations about ways that the Commission could improve its oversight over the financial industry because, obv, it had nothing to do with the fact that no one there had the background to detect classic Ponzi schemes.
Some recommendations that Kotz made included giving the PCAOB more oversight including jurisdiction over accounting firms that audit investment advisors and broker-dealers. That’s just what the PCAOB needs, more on its docket because it gets things done so quickly.
Kotz would also like to see an amendment to the Securities Act of 1940 that would require investment managers, including hedge funds, to place their securities with custodians that are registered with a national exchange. Kotz claims that this would prevent investment advisers from fraudulently using the proceeds received from new investors to pay old investors (a la Ponzi).
That’s all fine and dandy but Rep. Paul Kanjorski, of Pennsylvania has been asking for details on the Madoff ball dropping for the last two weeks and the Commission has been stalling. Kotz could only state that the Commission is “proceeding ‘in an expeditious manner.'”
Translation: We don’t have any idea how we missed the biggest Ponzi scheme in history.
Best we can expect, Kotz says, is that the report to be issued by the end of August. Which might be enough time to get Kanjorski involved in a sex scandal and maybe this will all just go away for the Commission.

S.E.C. Previews Its Madoff Report
[DealBook/NYT]

Review Comments – 6.29.09 – Bernie Madoff Sentenced to 150 Years in Prison Edition

In honor of the vengeance justice handed down today by Judge Denny Chin, we found some of the better posts out there re: Master do Ponz getting smacked by the book:

Questions linger over $65bn fraud
[FT.com]

Guesstimate Bernie Madoff’s Sentence
[DealBreaker]

Madoff’s Little Helpers
[Clusterstock]

The Real Victims of Bernie Madoff
[Daily Intel]

Madoff Feeders Getting Some Unwanted Attention

The SEC, feeling confident these days, has filed a complaint against Cohmad Securities Corporation and its Chairman, Chief Operating Officer, and one of the brokers, saying they “actively marketed Madoff investments while ‘knowingly or recklessly disregarding facts indicating that Madoff was operating a fraud.'”
Call us Captain Obv but that sounds like they were either dumb or in on the scam. Either way, they can’t be too psyched about it.
An additional complaint has been filed by the SEC against Stanley Chais, an investment adviser who put all of the assets he oversaw into casa de Madoff.
Irving Picard, who might have the most thankless job in America, also sued both Cohmad and Chais, because, you know, a few people want their money back. The trustee’s complaint against Cohmad spells it out:

The trustee’s lawsuit asserted that fees paid to Cohmad by Mr. Madoff were based on records showing the actual cash status of customer accounts — the amounts invested and withdrawn — without including the fictional profits shown in the statements provided to customers. When a customer’s withdrawals exceeded the cash invested, Cohmad’s employees no longer earned fees from that account — even though the customer’s statements still showed a substantial balance, according to the lawsuit.

This arrangement indicated that Cohmad and its representatives knew about the Ponzi scheme and knew that the profits investors were allegedly earning were bogus, according to the trustee’s complaint.

Good luck explaining that.

Brokerage Firm and 4 Others Sued in Madoff Case
[New York Times]